NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Cannabis seems to always be in the conversation here in Tennessee.
“It’s not the demon drug that people have made it out to be,” Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) said.
In stark contrast to News 2 Chris O’Brien’s story Thursday, most Democrat lawmakers in Tennessee support cannabis legislation. Some republicans even support it, at least medically, but it’s never made it to the General Assembly for a vote – something that doesn’t make sense to Freeman.
“I don’t know if I have a good answer,” he said when asked about what’s holding it up. “If I did, we wouldn’t be here four years later.”
The last few years, Freeman and Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) have sponsored cannabis bills in our legislature.
“It’s amazing how behind we are on that,” Campbell said. “We actually have polls that show us very clearly that most Tennesseans, by an overwhelming majority, are for some kind of legalization.”
Campbell is referring to an MTSU poll in 2018 showing over 80% of Tennesseans support cannabis legislation in some capacity. Momentum centers around the number of arrests on cannabis and finances, more than anything. Though a survey should be taken with some skepticism, it leaves some wondering why a vote hasn’t made it to the General Assembly yet.
“I’m not totally sure what we’re going to have to do to get people supporting this,” Freeman said. “If you poll across the state, it’s extremely popular.”
“Really, this is just a bottleneck in the legislature, which is a problem because legislators are supposed to be representing their constituents,” Campbell said.
When asked separately about their plans on introducing legislation when the session begins in January, Campbell and Freeman smiled.
“Yeah, absolutely, I think we have to keep knocking on the door until it opens,” Campbell said.
“I’m going to bring the same bill back again next year,” Freeman said.
If it does pass, there’s some interest from cannabis companies.
Trent Woloveck is the Chief Commercial Director for Jushi Holdings Inc., a cannabis company based out of Denver. We asked if the company would be interested in a dispensary in Tennessee. Woloveck’s answer was certain.
“We would love to be able to participate in a cannabis program in the state of Tennessee.”
See more of News 2’s special reports on ‘The Politics of Weed’ at this link.